tonight on "nightline," dangerously hot. a lethal heat wave in the country. we'll tell you why 100 degrees feels so much hotter this time. and what the weather has in store. pot of gold. the incredible story of a family who risked it all to chase their 24 karat dreams and came up big. how one stubborn couple started a modern gold rush. and margarita master. it's the ultimate summertime indulgence. the perfect treat to beat the heat. but it didn't happen by accident. meet the man who invented this frozen miracle. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with er the cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city and terry
moran in washington, this is "nightline," j jy 20th, 2011. >> good evening. well, it's not only hot, it's deadly hot. at least 22 people have died so far in the heat wave currently sweeping the country. and conditions will only get more dangerous in the coming days,, forecasters say. factors such as relative humidity of more than 0% and little or no wind are making temperatures that are already high feel downright unbearable. here's abc's john donvan with a snapshot of our sizzling states. >> reporter: it's all over the map this heat. 106 degrees in wichita. 98 in milwaukee. oklahoma city, 106. 99 in chicago. and while it seems to be going nowhere, this heat, it is, in fact, slowly sliding east, which is why the map, literally the map, has been in the headlines almost everywhere. hot colors we're not used to seeing. triple digit temperatures likely ahead for new york,
philadelphia, washington. with 27 states in some sort of heat advisory, the almost predictable heat related casualties in the neighborhood of two dozen deaths so far. there is, at least, some help available in many places. there are cooling centers and water on offer outside the salvation army in lafayette, indiana. >> peoeoe may have other ways coming off. a two-hour shopping trip at the mall or sitting at the library, going to a bookstore. >> reporter: and tonight, they were handing out water at the cubs game in chicago, after that twins game in minneapolis a few days back where people were developing like missed fly balls. see this? a tv cameraman found this shot of flowers in the breeze news worthy because what's desperately missing in all of this heat is wind. and with humidity some places at levels no one can remember, the heat index is crazy. tailorville, illinois, 121. newton, iowa, 129. hutchison, minnesota, 123.
in oklahoma city -- >> more gross heat, guys. really only thing i can think of to say tomorrow. >> reporter: there have only been two days in july with a temperature lower than 100. one day, 9 8. the other day, 99. yes, it is hot this summer. but the images that tell us that, the buckled pavement, in oklahoma, firemen getting wet in ks kansas kansas. >> it's very hot. very humid today. >> reporter: the chorus of the hot weather laments. >> i can't stand it. i just can't stand it. >> reporter: it's actually a time honored summer ritual. because we've had hot weather before. >> the pattern that we're seeing right now is very similar to the 1930s and '40s. we've been here before but we have a lot more people, a lot of requirements now and a lot more
exposure to it the number of people with have. >> reporter: still this is now. and, it does have consequences, economic ones, for example. this heat can be hard on crops. that was evident at this farmer's market. >> we had three tomatoes off of one vine. that's all. before they just fried. >> reporter: the heat can hit the nation's corn crop. and corn needs cool nights. >> really holt weather can stress the corn crops in the midwest, for example. we're concerned about the warm conditions in the overnight periods that strain the growth of the corn crop. we could see corn that's coming in below expectations and that's slight scarcity will adjust the prices upward. >> reporter: so corn needs the evenings to cool off, otherwise it doesn't grow? >> i need that kind of balance. the cooler evenings and the -- >> reporter: if it doesn't cool off? >> we noticed last summer, as well. depressed corn yield below the trend line. i think it's going to be a
problem this year, too. >> reporter: cattle in south dakota have been falling over dead in the heat. 1,500 so far. and back in the cities? >> all of these air conditions running 24 hours a day. can we handle it? >> we can. but it will strain the utility grid and we will have some problems occasionally with rolling brownouts and things like that. but what a lot of people don't realize is we use other xh commodities. natural gas supply is running below last year's levels. >> reporter: it tests us, weather like this. not because it is new, but because it is now. and you see the dust storms blowing around in phoenix and you can only dream of the time that will come when the breeze will be cool once again. i'm john donvan for "nightline" in washington. >> we can only hope. thanks to john donvan for that. just ahead. did he hit on a new secret for finding gold? we head to the yukon for an incredible story of long olds
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my wife and i want to lowe our cholesterol, but finding healthy food that tastes good is torturous. your father is suffering. [ male announc ] honey nut cheerios tastes great and can help lower cholesterol. >> announcer: "nightline" continues from washington with terry moran. >> it's a mix of high adventure and investor's flare. moving to the middle of nowhere and risking everything, based on a hunch about hidden treasure. they say that bravery can look a lot like stupidity and it's onto in retrospect that you know which is which. well, in retrospect, shawn ryan is not only very brave, he's very rich. here's abc's david wright. ♪ >> reporter: there's gold in them there hills. even today, more than a century after the last great gold rush
put this cold corner of canada on the happen. >> someone spread a bad rumor that there was no more gold left. >> reporter:r:ucky for you. >> reporter: shawn ryan is a millionaire many times over. a canadian back woodsman with a high school education. and a knack for finding gold. you can smell it. wow. >> this is a super high grade piece. >> reporter: he's been so successful, he's helped to spark a new gold rush. >> i don't have any fingers and taupes to name off what he's found. >> reporter: at least 50 tons of gold deposits so far. at today's prices, worth $1.5 billion. >> this is all ours. ours. ours. >> reporter: the whole map, basically. >> close to 50% of all this. >> reporter: ryan spent the past decade quietly staking claim, giving him exclusive rights to mine, at a time when everyone else had all but given up on the
klondike. >> this is probably the richest creek on the planet, maybe. >> reporter: but no one ever managed to find the mother load. >> it's a big mystery. we still may find pieces of it. >> reporter: the gold is tougher to find now. but shawn ryan had a theory, that all those nuggets dredged up from the creek beds must have had a hard rock source some where up in the mountains. he thinks of it like chasing big foot. >> to me, it's like you are seeing sasquatch tracks with no beast. we had to find a picture of what the beast looked like. >> reporter: it wasn't long before he loaded his pickup truck with rocks and brought them down to show the experts in the capital. >> he rolled into whitehorse, late on a friday afternoon, just as we were heading out for beer and brought in a bunch of rock samples that he had been out prospecting. krips, it was -- i know i was late for supper getting home.
>> reporter: the amateur prospector heading off into the great white north to strike it rich is the heart of the klondike myth. >> deep into the silent came an undaunted lone prospector. >> reporter: shawn ryan doesn't have it quite so tough as charlie chaplin's little tramp in the gold rush, eating hisis n boot. but it was a struggle. >> shawn and kathy's house. >> reporter: ryan's mother took these home movies, trying to reassure his mother-in-law about their living conditions. as you can hear her almost trying to convince herself. >> kathy hung up all these nice flower pots. >> reporter: the real was 1998. but it might as well be 1898. at the time, they supported themselves by picking mushrooms that restaurants were willing to pay top dollar for. eight years chasing mushrooms. but it wasn't an easy way to provide for their growing
family. >> we were broke broke. we had 3,000 bucks in the bank. >> reporter: they've been so successful, they've helped to enrich the whole community. the old yukon capital, dawson city, had become almost a museum piece, dedicated to the gold rush. >> big smile. how do you feel on this glorious day? >> reporter: the weekend we visited, the townspeople gathered in period costumes for the annual commissioner's ball. now, history is repeating itself. >> dawson is in the middle of a new gold rush. who could have imagined that 113 years later, we would be starting all over again? >> reporter: now days, shawn needs a helicopter to manage his claims. an area that's bigger than the state of delaware. >> that can be paid. that should have been paid. >> reporter: meanwhile, kathy runs the business, negotiating deals with the mining companies that not only pay them millions
up front for exploration rights but guarantee them a percentage of any gold they find. they don't exactly live like bill and melinda gates but their cabin has heat, plumbing, electricity. and kathy has time to be a soccer mom. in fact, they donated this playing field to the town. >> the shawn and kathy thing is everybody's dream the canadian dream, the american dream. to go from rags to riches and to work hard and have it pay off. so, theirs is a perfect story. >> reporter: and money isn't what drives them. i'm looking at your watch and your wedding ring here. i don't see -- a little bit -- >> there's a little bit of gold. to be honest, you know, i'll not a big gold person. i actually love silver. >> reporter: in fact, the point for shawn is not wanting to wear a watch. he's always just sought for a way to support his family without havingngo join the rat race. to him, this wilderness is a resource, not a picture
postcard. >> don't fall in love with it, because we may want to mip it one day. >> reporter: there's gold in them there hills. and shawn ryan is determined to find it. i'm david right fwright for "nightline." >> what a great story. thanks to david wright for that. just ahead, the creator of the iced margarita machine. we introduce you to the thomas edison of frozen tequila drinks. [ smooches ] [ male announcer ] it can open doors, it can erase boundaries and hold its ground. it can even the score and start a movement. -it can... -[ beatboxing ] [ male announcer ] it can buy time and tell time. shhh. [ baby giggles ] [ male announcer ] we use our mouths in so many ways to open up to the world. after all, life opens up when you do. crest and oral-b. tell us your story at lifeopensupproject.com.
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as you may or may not know, depending, sunday is national tequila day, and with temperatures expected to be reaching three digits, you might just find yourself at some point staring into that hypnotic spin of a frozen margarita machine, waiting for its delicious delivery. if so, you'll have one man to thank. and for abc's ryan owens, it's tonight's "sign of the times." >> reporter: along the central california coast, just beyond the clutches of pebble beach, nestled among the cyprus and the pines -- ♪ there sits a patch of agave, the plant used to make tequila. they seem a bit out of place. but then, so does the man that planted them. >> you're the margarita man. oh, my gosh. >> reporter: mariano martinez is a high school dropout. >> i was born in little mexico section of dallas and my first language was spanish. >> reporter: how he went from the rough streets of dallas -- how about a toast to the good
life here? >> okay. salut. >> reporter: to the corner table at the pebble beach club -- >> this is where i always wanted to be. i wanted to end up here. >> reporter: has everything to do with those frosty drinks sitting in front of us. >> margarita is now the number one cocktail in the world. there's 180,000 margaritas consumed every hour in the united states. >> reporter: for all of those brain freezes, all of those empty calories, you now know who to blame. 40 years ago, martinez invented the frozen margarita machine. that's him next to it in the bandito costume. >> this was my one shot. i thought i had everything covered. >> reporter: he got enough money together to open a small restaurant in dallas. opening night was a disas e. >> we had one blender and we had bartenders that were cutting limes and squeezing them. supposed to be measuring the tequila, they were overwhelmed with the orders. >> reporter: his first customers
complained that the drinks tasted different and took too long to get. >> the next morning, i stopped at a 7-eleven store and i saw the slurpee machine in the back. >eporter: he immediately c l called 7-eleven. >> they were really wondering ababt it. and finally one guy said, don't you take chemistry? don't you know alcohol doesn't free? >> reporter: undaunted, he bought a soft serve ice cream machine. >> and we kind of souped it up like you would a car. >> reporter: by adding more sugar, he made it freeze. >> and i said, plug it in, let's go for it. and it worked. >> reporter: and his little restaurant -- >> hi, welcome to mariano's. >> reporter: it was an overnight
success. >> people came from all over north texas and they heard about the machine. that machine saved me from going out of business. >> reporter: today, martinez sits atop an empmpe of a half dozen restaurants over north texas. with 600 employees. >> look at how beautiful this is. >> reporter: a very loil clientele. >> cheers to mariano's. >> it's great. >> reporter: and one honor he couldn't evenn fathom. his invention is now in the smithsonian. mariano and his wife of 38 years, wanda, now split tim between texas and the california coast. >> we just kind of window shop. >> reporter: we spent a day with them bar hopping. what to order was never a question. >> here are your margaritas. >> life's good. >> reporter: especially after a
few margaritas. >> well, that makes it better. life's great. >> reporter: you still have traditionalists who say the best margarita is one on the rocks. what do you say to them? >> i agree with them. i'm one of those. >> reporter: wait a minute, the guy came up with the margarita machine and he drinks them on the rocks? >> right. my tastes have evolved. >> reporter: and so has his life. you know, people always talk about the american dream. have you lived it? >> i have. i'm living it right now. >> reporter: perhaps those agave plants don't look so out of place afterall. i'm ryan owens for "nightline" in carmel, california. >> mariano martinez, we salute you. and you can get the margarita man's special recipe on our abcnews.com/nightline. that's our report for tonight. thank you for watching abc news. we hope you check in for "good morning america".